Suffolk County property owners will have an additional three weeks to pay their taxes under a new executive order by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo granting tax extensions to dozens of municipalities on Long Island and statewide.
Suffolk property owners can pay their taxes by June 21, instead of May 31, without penalties or interest as New Yorkers grapple with the effects of the economic shutdown during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The good news is for people who have been impacted by COVID-19, there is relief already in place,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said of Cuomo's order, signed May 21.
Local municipal officials had lobbied for a longer extension. The Suffolk Town Supervisors’ Association, for instance, had pressed for an Aug. 1 deadline for tax payments.
“We appreciate anything, but certainly June 21 is not enough time,” said Babylon Town Supervisor Richard Schaffer, who heads the association. Schaffer noted Cuomo's order, signed May 21, gave Westchester County an extension until July 15.
Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy said the extension, because it extends to all taxpayers and not just those with financial hardship, presents a significant challenge for county finances.
Kennedy noted that the county already was projecting a budget shortfall of around $350 million this year. With the further loss of revenue due to the extension, the county will have a hard time making its $37 million biweekly payroll and a $332 million debt payment due July 23, Kennedy said. It will be necessary to borrow from reserves to make next week’s payroll, Kennedy said.
“We’d be better off working with each of these impacted individuals" on their payments instead of giving a blanket extension, said Kennedy, a Republican who long has criticized Bellone's handling of county finances.
Bellone, a Democrat, said he did not expect the tax extension to “create any issues” because the debt payment won't be due until several weeks after the June 21 tax deadline.
Suffolk property owners were late in paying about $40 million in June and July of last year, when the economy was good, Kennedy said. That figure probably will be higher this year because of the pandemic, he said.
The county typically charges a late penalty of 5% of taxes owed, plus another 1% per month dating from four months before the deadline for as long as the tax bill is outstanding.
The average property tax bill in Suffolk was $9,472 in 2018, according to real estate information company Attom Data Solutions.
Also under Cuomo's order, Nassau County villages covered by the payment extension are: Bayville, Cedarhurst, East Rockaway, Floral Park, Flower Hill, Great Neck, Great Neck Estates, Kings Point, Lynbrook, Massapequa Park, Mill Neck, Old Westbury, Oyster Bay Cove, Roslyn, Roslyn Harbor, Sea Cliff, Westbury, Williston Park and Valley Stream.
Suffolk villages are Asharoken, Huntington Bay and Quogue. Head of the Harbor and Russell Gardens received retroactive tax extensions.
Bellone and other Suffolk officials said they were not aware of the executive order until a few days after Cuomo signed it.
Bellone had said last week he would ask Cuomo for a 45-day extension for those with coronavirus-related financial hardship. Bellone said Cuomo still could consider that request.
Cuomo’s press office did not respond to a request for comment.